When the gchat notification sounds became frequent enough to interrupt her Soundcloud stream, Isis switched tabs to see who was chatting her, guessing it would be her boss, which turned out to be a good guess. She explained what she had already explained in the group email that morning, and her boss said "fantastic isis" after saying a couple of other things without pressing enter so that Isis found herself staring at the words "Dimitri is typing..." for longer than she felt justified her boss's terse verbiage. Her eyes witnessed the digital clock in the right hand corner of the screen switch from 4:59 to 5:00, which she attributed to her unique ability to sense the digital world through her fingertips, and she cursed both the fact that electromagnetic radiation made her physically ill and that she didn't work a 9 to 5 but instead worked a 9 to 6 and still had an hour left at her job, which was annoying both because it meant she worked 260 more hours, or 10.83 more days a year than 9-to-5ers did, and that when she complained/boasted about having a grown-up-9-to-5 job she couldn't stop herself from adding that, well actually, she worked 9 to 6, not 9 to 5, so it was even worse in her case, and that the usual response was that that was the norm these days.
The day before, Isis had sent her boss an email about her Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity disorder, and had been refreshing gmail all day to see whether he had responded, which, as of 5:00, he hadn’t. She opened the email she sent him, and for the third time reread what she had copied and pasted, trying to mentally embody her boss while she did it, which made her doubt her decision to send it, again, and even more so now that she still hadn’t heard back.
“Having Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EMS) means experiencing recurring stress or illness when near active electric and magnetic fields (EMF) or electromagnetic radiation (EMR) found in the modern environment. The symptoms vary between sufferers, but normally include some of the following: tiredness, depression, headaches, restlessness, irritability, forgetfulness, learning difficulties, frequent infections, blood pressure changes, limb and joint pains, numbness or tingling sensations, tinnitus, impaired balance, giddiness and eye problems.
“Many of the symptoms reported have a lot in common with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), and it is quite common for someone who suffers from one condition to suffer from the other. The best way to mitigate symptoms if you suffer from EMS is to avoid exposure to them. Don't use a mobile or cordless phone, don't use WiFi, and avoid public areas that offer Wireless access. There are a number of further measures that can be taken to help identify and reduce your exposure, such as detectors that can display exposure to sources of electromagnetic fields, and shielding materials that can either block or reflect the fields, enabling you to have a very low EMF home environment,” the email read.
Isis knew that she hadn’t been performing to the best of her abilities recently, and wanted to offer an excuse but also lay some groundwork for some requests she planned to make in the coming weeks: that her 6-person office would agree to use ethernet rather than wifi, to put their phones on airplane mode when not in use, and to subsidize a copper faraday cage for Isis to put around her computer, and if those three things weren’t possible, to allow her to work from home. She had been managing her annoying symptoms on her own the best she could while in the office, adding her own supplements and bee pollan into the fresh pressed juices she bought across the street, wearing copper jewelry which helped block radiation, and doing various other things that she learned were helpful on some EMF treatment blogs, all of which were very poorly designed and outdated, which made sense considering the administrators were most likely allergic to the internet.
By the time it was 5:30, it had already been three and a half hours since Isis had detoxed in the Clearlight Infrared™ sauna that she specifically tried to get a job near, since the radiation canceling sauna is uncommon, but there were a few gyms that had one in Manhattan, and one of them was literally three doors down from the office building where she worked. Isis left the office usually twice daily for 30 minutes sessions to sit naked in the sauna, as recommended, and she assumed no one from the office really noticed her unreasonably sweaty hairline when she returned, due to the constant film of coconut oil that sat on the surface of her skin which she used as an radiation barrier and that made her, at all times, pretty glossy. She figured she would have to wait it out until she got off at 6 to go to the sauna, but then by that point, would most likely not go because it would be too crowded by then.
Isis opened and then closed Instagram on her phone twice consecutively, a habit formed probably from being addicted to memes but also from knowing that cutting down screen time would help with her irritability. Oil was beginning to bead up and harden around the edges of her resin radiation barrier phone case that she ordered from AnOrgonizedEarth on Etsy, and she wondered weather her headaches were increasing because the case was becoming weak in its old age of 1 year, which in tech years is more like 8.
After eventually leaving work and doing some other things, Isis debated weather to drink her second cold pressed juice of the day in the bathtub while she soaked, because she felt she needed to take advantage of the enzymes in the juice while they were still alive and valuable but also feared the proximity of the hot bath water to the plastic cup could potentially release BPA and other harmful toxins into her juice and thus her body, or "flesh prison" as Isis saw others refer to it on the internet, which reminded her to remember to say "flesh prison" out loud at some point in the office.
Isis poured Piping Rock Kaolin Powder, Nature’s Way Alive! Vitamin C powder, and monoatomic ORMUS elixir into her bathwater and inhaled deeply while thinking "I'm breathing deliberately" as she lowered herself into the water, which had been filtered by a CuZn Water Systems Bath Ball Faucet Filter. She thought about how closing her eyes was a good way to relax while she closed her eyes, before opening them after several seconds later or maybe a minute later, feeling defeated by the self-imposed pressure to not think about anything specific while her eyes were closed. When she opened her eyelids, she realized she had left her cold pressed juice out of reach from the tub, never having fully committed to a decision about whether or not to drink it while bathing. Isis felt relief in realizing that her decision had been decided for her, or not decided for her exactly since no one else had decided it, but instead had become something like a fact.
After soaking long enough to assume she had sweated enough toxins out of her body, which she'd read on blogs would take 15 to 20 minutes, she toweled off, walked into her bedroom, turned on her natural Himalayan salt lamp, and laid down on her bed to post a Facebook status update. She spent almost 40 minutes finding the perfect image to accompany "tfw you tell ur doctor ur allergic to wifi" but then deleted it knowing someone would comment in a way that called her out for being a kind of oxymoron. After that and some other things, Isis ordered Seamless, ate it while watching her favorite compilation video of sinks holes, which she loved because it moved her, made her feel sad and humbled and also thankful because she thought sinkholes illustrated the hazardous and sublime effects modern living has on the environment, and plucked her eyebrows.
*This story written by Loney Abrams and Johnny Stanish is an expanded and edited version of a story they wrote for an email-based exhibition with Screen_ in September, 2016.